The Albany Symphony Orchestra celebrated the venerable Troy Savings Bank Music Hall Sunday night with eight world premieres that had been inspired by either the hall’s architecture or its history. The concert was part of the ASO’s Capital Heritage Concert series.
The center piece of the program for most of those in attendance was the 20-minute “Troy” composed by 17 composers from Doyle Middle School under composer Missy Mazzoli’s guidance for the school’s 32-piece band and the 43-member chorus. It was a major accomplishment for all.
The composers wrote the opening instrumental, which John Vatalaro conducted, that had some pretty melodies. Then Rhonda Hermance conducted the chorus in four original songs based on the students’ research into Troy’s history and its connection to the hall. The songs had some clever lyrics. The third “Off to the Music Hall” was charming in waltz time with a flute obligato; and the fourth “The Tallest in Town” had interesting harmony choices and an undulating piano part played well by Catherine Crone. The work ended as it began with the band, which played with practiced enthusiasm.
Prior to this piece were three from the professionals. Daniel Bradshaw’s “Hall of Mirrors” had an odd mix of ringing tones, shimmery short scales, percussive piano chords that threatened to overwhelm the 11-member ensemble like a giant roar and some melancholic sustained passages. David Alan Miller conducted.
Daniel Wohl’s “Exchange” for violin, cello and percussion had the two strings in a perpetuum mantra against rhythmic percussion colors of bass drum, cymbal, and wood blocks. A listener could almost get into a zone with the repetition.
Tucker Fuller went for tonal fragments to simulate the disappearance of parts of the hall’s façade in “Intricately Laid, Meticulously Covered” for violin, cello and piano. Silence connected these bits that evolved into fuller passages and an occasionally haunting violin line. Pitch was sometimes an issue, otherwise Fuller fulfilled his intent.
Only the hard-core enthusiasts came back after intermission, and they were rewarded with some of the best works of the evening. Takuma Itoh’s “Across the Open Sky” for two violins in the balcony and the cello on stage was as ephemeral and impressionistic as a Monet watercolor. Spots of pastel strokes of color played against wispy fragments, undulating harmonies and an occasional soaring violin solo.
Xi Wang’s “Lonely Stone” for viola and cello was introspective as it worked up to an intense, tortured climax followed by some fast passages that eventually faded away. Andrea Reinkemeyer, who flew in from Thailand just for this premiere, wrote an excellent duo “Wrought Iron” for flute and percussion. Albert Brower played the stuffings out of the terrific flute part, which was clever, funky, jazzy and virtuosic.
The final work, Narong Prangcharoen’s “Echoes of Silence” for the full ensemble under Miller was colorful with shimmery colors and Stravinsky and Borodin quotes.